Joe Lhota

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Joe Lhota
Lhota 2013 Mayoral Race Campaign portrait
Born Joseph J. Lhota
(1954-10-07) October 7, 1954 (age 61)
Bronx, New York, United States
Nationality American
Ethnicity Czech, Jewish,[1] Italian
Alma mater Georgetown University
Harvard Business School
Known for Handling the MTA (New York City's transportation system) following Superstorm Sandy
Serving as deputy mayor for operations for Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Republican candidate for New York City Mayor 2013
Predecessor Jay Walder
Successor Fernando Ferrer (acting)
Political party Republican Party
Religion Christian[2]

Joseph J. "Joe" Lhota[pronunciation?] (born October 7, 1954) is an American politician and businessman, former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and former deputy mayor of New York City. He was the Republican nominee in his unsuccessful bid for the 2013 election for Mayor of New York City. As of 2015, he is senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Early life and education[edit]

Joe Lhota was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Jackie and Joseph "Joe" Lhota, a retired NYPD police officer.[3] His paternal grandfather was a FDNY firefighter, and his maternal grandfather was a New York City taxi driver. His father’s family is Czech. His maternal grandfather was of Italian descent and his maternal grandmother was Jewish.[4] Lhota was raised Catholic, and self-identifies as a Christian, although he would be considered Jewish according to Jewish law.[2] The family later moved to Lindenhurst.[4] He is the first member of his family to attend college, graduating with honors from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business with a degree in business administration in 1976. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980.[5]

Business career[edit]

Upon graduating from Harvard, Lhota returned to New York City and began a fourteen year career as an investment banker at First Boston and Paine Webber. He specialized in public finance, serving state and local governments throughout the United States.

In 2002, Lhota became executive vice president of Cablevision, as well as president of Lightpath, a fiber-based telecommunications company that offered telephone and high speed data services to businesses throughout the New York area. In 2010, he joined The Madison Square Garden Company as executive vice president as a member of the senior management team and chief administrative officer.[6]

Joseph Lhota in January 2015

In early 2014, after his mayoral run, Lhota was appointed as senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, in charge of "government outreach", emergency preparedness, and business planning.[7][8]

Political career[edit]

Giuliani administration[edit]

In 1994, Lhota joined the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, where he held several positions over Giuliani's two terms. He first served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for finance and economic development and that year was quickly promoted to New York City finance commissioner. In 1995, he was selected as director of the office of management and budget. In 1998, Giuliani appointed Lhota to deputy mayor for operations. As the head of the mayor's rat abatement task force, he was humorously known as "the Rat Czar".[9]

Lhota served as Mayor Giuliani's liaison to the White House, United States Congress, governor of New York, New York State Legislature and New York City Council. Additionally, he was responsible for oversight of the City’s relationships with the public employee unions and development of collective bargaining agreement strategies.

Chairman of the MTA[edit]

On October 20, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Lhota to serve as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA),[10] the largest mass transit provider in the United States (servicing 8.5 million customers daily). While awaiting confirmation by the New York State Senate, Lhota began serving as interim CEO.[11] He was unanimously confirmed on Jan 9, 2012.[12]

MTA Chair Joe Lhota speaks with transit workers during Sandy recovery efforts at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal
Lhota gives press briefing at Hugh L. Carey Tunnel with Governor Cuomo and Albany leaders.

Lhota was responsible for New York City Transit’s FASTRACK program which saw more than $16 million in productivity gains in 2012, by concentrating and targeting subway station maintenance efforts. In July 2012 Lhota announced a $30 million service enhancement package that not only restored transportation services that the MTA had previously eliminated in 2010, but also provided the opportunity to add new transit services in underserved areas, including Williamsburg, the South Bronx and Brooklyn Navy Yard—all New York City neighborhoods that have seen significant residential and commercial development since 2005. Lhota spearheaded the MTA making information about the MTA and its services more accessible to its customers through its website and apps. He granted pay raises to managers at the MTA.[13]

When Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, Joe Lhota shut down the MTA in advance of the storm and moved the system's trains to high ground to avoid damage from the storm surge. His other notable hurricane recovery measure was the rapid deployment of a free Rockaway Park Shuttle to service the worst damaged lines in Rockaway, Queens.[14] Lhota also directed the MTA to provide regular details and updates to the public on the recovery efforts via social media and local news channels.[14]

Mayoral candidacy[edit]

Oct. 9, 2013. Lhota preparing to march at a School Choice rally across the Brooklyn Bridge along with over 17,000 parents from low-income neighborhoods who have children in publicly co-located charter schools.
Lhota's campaign outreaches to New York City's Indian immigrant community

Lhota resigned as head of the MTA on December 31, 2012, to explore running for mayor of New York City.[15] On January 17, 2013, Joe Lhota filed paperwork with the New York City Board of Elections and the New York State Board of Elections which formally launched his mayoral campaign.[16]

Lhota won the endorsements of all three major daily New York City newspapers in the Republican primary, with The New York Times in particular stating, "few people know better than Mr. Lhota how city government works."[17] He won the primary on September 10, 2013 with 52.5% of the vote, defeating John Catsimatidis, who garnered 40.7%, and George T. McDonald, who captured 6.8%.[18]

Lhota received the endorsements of the Statewide Association of Minority Businesses PAC and the Latinos Unidos de Flushing. “Our main reason for supporting Joe Lhota is he understands the needs of the minority business community of the City of New York, and has expressed his willingness to work with the community,” said Joe Lopez, Treasurer of SAMPAC.[19]

  • Crain's New York Business endorsed Joe Lhota for mayor over de Blasio, stating "Mr. Lhota possesses a refreshing combination of competence and humility." In the endorsement, Crain's notes "the Democrat's management experience is thin, and he (de Blasio) has not made a case for himself as chief executive."[20]
  • AM New York endorsed Joe Lhota for mayor on October 25, 2013 citing his "...administrative chops to run a city as complex and as crucial as New York City."[21]
  • In an editorial dated October 28, 2013, Joe Lhota was endorsed by Newsday "Elect Joe Lhota mayor of New York"[22]
  • The Jewish Voice endorsed Joe Lhota in an editorial dated October 31, 2013, stating he "is clearly the most qualified person to lead the nation’s most vibrant city."[23]
  • The New York Post endorsed Joe Lhota for Mayor in an editorial published November 4, 2013: "Joe Lhota for New York City mayor"[24]

Lhota's economic plan focuses on job creation primarily through tax cuts. Lhota says he wants to lower the General Corporation Tax, phase out the Commercial Rent Tax, reform the Unincorporated Business Tax, and lower the hotel tax.[25] He proposes cutting the hotel occupancy tax to 5% from 5.85%. Lhota will also continue to support high-tech industry and focus on the biotech industry as well. New York City has many colleges that teach biomedical studies, notes Lhota, but the products are built elsewhere. “The brains are here, but the products aren’t here,” Lhota said. To ease the burden on homeowners, Lhota proposes to lower property taxes.[26]

Lhota proposes a new tax incentive program that would allow private sector developers to build mixed-use housing, that will incorporate affordable units.[27]

Lhota plans to improve education in New York City by doubling the number of public charter schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. He participated in a School Choice Rally, organized by Success Academy Charter Schools to protest his opponent's proposed rent requirement for the city's existing co-located charter schools and a ban on further co-location in public school buildings.[28]

Lhota also proposes universal pre-Kindergarten without raising taxes.[citation needed]

Lhota lost the general election to Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio,[29] garnering 249,121 votes or 24.3% of the voter turnout.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Joe Lhota is married to Tamra Roberts Lhota. The couple met while she was working in Washington, D.C.[31] Lhota and his wife have one child.[32]

While he was raised Catholic and identifies as Christian, Lhota's maternal grandmother was Jewish. When asked why he hasn't capitalized on his religious heritage to garner the city's Jewish voters, he responded, "I think that would be patronizing."[33]

Political beliefs[edit]

Lhota has defended his support for pro-choice and marriage equality as not only being in sync with New York City's socially liberal outlook but consistent with Jeffersonian republicanism or democracy and its intellectual premise in classical liberalism. His accommodation of fiscal conservatism and socially progressive views have been criticized by some local social conservative groups while independents have applauded his position as an example of third-way politics.[34]


  1. ^ Jewish Voice NY, The Players - An Election Round Up
  2. ^ a b Jacob Kornbluh. "Exclusive: Joe ‘Yoely’ Lhota on his Relationship With the Jews". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  3. ^ "The Yeshiva World Joe Lhota Winner of NYC Republican Mayoral Primary [UPDATED 11:30PM] " " Frum Jewish News". 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Cindy (February 5, 2013). "Who is this Joe Lhota, anyway?". New York Post. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ Patzer, Meghan (February 5, 2013). "Alumnus to Run for NYC Mayor". The Hoya. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Madison Square Garden Strengthens Senior Management Team (NASDAQ:MSG)". Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  7. ^ Josh Dawsey and Lisa Fleisher (January 3, 2014). "NYU Langone Hires Lhota". Wall Street Journal Metropolis blog. 
  8. ^ Laura Nahmias (January 3, 2014). "Lhota replaces Shorris at NYU Langone". Capital New York. 
  9. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (14 September 2000). "The War on Vermin Escalates Into a Duel of Rodent Warriors". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces MTA and Transportation Appointments | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  11. ^ "MTA News | MTA". Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  12. ^ "Joe Lhota approved as new MTA chairman". 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  13. ^ Donohue, Pete (February 5, 2013). "Ex-MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota grants retroactive payraises and payouts worth $253,000 to 3 top agency presidents and former exec". Daily News (New York). Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Flegenheimer, Matt (November 19, 2012). "Free Subway Shuttle Starting for Part of Rockaway Peninsula". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Lovett, Kenneth; Donohue, Pete; Katz, Celeste; Otis, Ginger Adams (December 18, 2012). "Joe Lhota, in possible push in mayoral race, to resign as MTA Chairman". Daily News (New York). Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "For New York Mayor". The New York Times. August 24, 2013. 
  18. ^ Orden, Erica (September 10, 2013). "Lhota Wins Republican Primary for Mayor". The Wall Street Journal. 
  19. ^ . Joe Lhota for Mayor. October 3, 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Joe Lhota for New York City mayor". New York Post. November 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota vows to cut taxes on business, properties, and hotel stays". Daily News (New York). 
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ "Chat with NYC mayoral candidate Joe Lhota". Daily News (New York). 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Fermino, Jennifer; Karni, Annie; Siemaszko, Corky (November 5, 2013). "Bill de Blasio elected mayor of New York City". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  30. ^ "New York City Mayor - 2013 Election Results". The New York Times. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Barbaro, Michael; Flegenheimer, Matt (January 17, 2013). "Outsize Personality Joins, and Jostles, Mayor’s Race". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ DeFalco, Beth (August 27, 2013). "Not your average Republican: Joe Lhota favors 'fiscal discipline' – as well as abortion, same-sex marriage and pot legalization". New York Post. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jay Walder
Chairman & CEO of the MTA
Succeeded by
Fernando Ferrer (acting)